Archive for the Colleagues/Work Category

The Philadelphia Experiment

Posted in Colleagues/Work, Conspiracy Theories, Ufology on May 5, 2008 by moonflake

Last week a colleague asked me if I knew about the Philadelphia Experiment, and admitted that he thought it might actually have happened. Frankly, aside from seeing the movie many many years ago, I had not really done much digging into this particular conspiracy theory. I didn’t really need much in the way of exact or detailed knowledge of the story to form the conclusion that it was rubbish – what I know of physics is more than enough. But suffice to say that my interest was peaked, so here is the story of the hoax that became known as the Philadelphia Experiment.

Continue reading


Spider-goat, spider-goat…

Posted in Colleagues/Work, Science on August 3, 2007 by moonflake

A question from a colleague today brought this one up. It just goes to show, sometimes truth is nearly as strange as fiction. My first instinct when reading this is “urban legend”:

I never would have believed it unless I had read it myself. Scientists have successfully genetically altered a goats embryo with the DNA of a spider. These genetically altered goats produced (mutated) in a laboratory are presently producing milk that is being used to make bullet-proof vests. The fibers contained in the spider goat’s milk are twice as strong as Kevlar!!! Can you imagine?

Everything screams gullible repetition of nonsense, from the URL to the style sheet to the use of multiple exclamation marks. But, source aside, it turns out this one actually true. Published in Science (Lazaris et al., 2002-01-18. Science. Vol. 295:472-476), developed at a company backed by the Canadian Department of National Defense, registered trademark… yep, these are all the clues that what we have here is a real product, and what distinguishes it from similar outlandish claims.

Nexia Biotechnology’s product BioSteel® has serious commercial, military and medical applications, and there is still a lot of work to be done in perfecting the process of creating actual material from the fibers once extracted from the milk. But it is certainly not a hoax.

Next, I think they should focus their keen genetic engineering on creating the spider-pig!

My work here is done

Posted in Colleagues/Work, Conspiracy Theories, Humour, Skepticism on March 19, 2007 by moonflake

For a long time now I’ve been that employee who steadfastly responds to mass emails of the unfounded, dodgy, urban legend variety with links to the relevant Snopes article or other trustworthy reference. At company ‘awards’ evenings i’m generally ‘fined’ for being the office MythBuster. One year, I got a mug.

So it is with great pride and joy that I sat back to watch a recent email being descended upon by the office at large for the sheer gullibility of the person sending it. You’ve seen it before, I’m sure – the one where the author proves that there is a something weird surrounding the events of September 11, 2001, because of the number of ways they can find the number 11 in selected snippets of related information, a verse from the Koran that doesn’t exist, and some random letters and numbers selected for what they look like in Wingdings font. What ensued was a veritable shitstorm of responses where employees found the number 11 in the unwitting victim’s name, phone extension, other emails he’d sent out, his responses to their responses… eventually dissolving into the outright hilarity that this kind of claim deserves. But what topped it off was these two photos, taken today and sent around with the title ‘A sign of the times’:

A sign of the times Part 1

A sign of the times Part 2

My work here is done.

Sugar Coating

Posted in Colleagues/Work, Pseudoscience on August 11, 2006 by moonflake

In our office, we have a fridge that management used to keep stocked with a variety of sugary and diet sodas, as part of a concerted effort to ensure employee satisfaction. Happy employees are productive employees, which is why we have a lot of creature comforts supplied to us. We are indeed very happy with this situation.

Recently, however, the sodas, both sugary and diet, have been replaced by fruit juice. The official reason is that some people were drinking too many, and thus getting too much sugar which is bad for you. Now some of us, including one employee who is diabetic, did not partake of the sugary drinks, but stuck to the diet drinks. We now have no choice – either drink the sugar, or get nothing. There is an element of discrimination here, but mostly i’m bothered by the logic.

Also, just to point out: one cup of cola has 152 calories. One cup of grape juice has 154. In both cases, the calories come from sugar. Yes, you’re getting additional vitamins from the fruit juice, but it’s certainly not going to help with any sort of sugar-related issue.

Naturally, I petitioned for diet drinks to be added to the fridge. One of the managers has approved, the other has taken the stance that diet drinks contain aspartame and are just as bad as the sugary ones. Need i point out yet again that there’s nothing wrong with aspartame? Drives me up the wall when i hear this kind of nonsense from otherwise intelligent people.

New York! Neeeeeeeew Yoooooork!

Posted in Colleagues/Work, Science, USA Trips on October 18, 2005 by moonflake

I might need to go to New York on super short notice within the next 3 weeks. The clients would like an extra body on deck for the opening of the Rockefeller Center Observation Deck. The boss is already going to be there for three weeks around go live, but they need someone else to do mad running around telling the sales personnel ‘No! Not that button!’

Here’s the thing tho: we don’t know when i’ll leave, how long i’ll be gone for, or even if i will be going. But just in case, i need to apply for a visa this week. So I will be driving in to town on thursday morning to apply. Joy. And the appointment confirmation says “please do not bring large bundles or backpacks with you when you come for your appointment, as you may not be able to enter the consulate with them.” Eeek.

Even worse: dress code there is very formal. If i go, i’m going to have to get a whole new damn wardrobe before i leave. I see my edgars card getting a workout. Blegh, i don’t like formal clothes. I want to wear my top with the skulls on to work!

On the upside, i get to see new york, so that’s pretty cool.

Here’s some cool science stuff about mars’ Magnetic Field.

And this is where all your tax money goes. Lovin’ it.

Feature, not a bug

Posted in Colleagues/Work, Time Waste on September 23, 2005 by moonflake

Ok, before i start, go and have a look at the ugliest website ever made. Scroll down, click on the links on the left for the full impact of the ugliness. If your eyes start to bleed, close the window.

Also, here’s a site with some fun stupid little quizzes to take and get things to put on your blog:

Your Blog Should Be Red

Your blog is full of intensity and passion.
You are very opinionated – and people love or hate you for it.
You have the potential to be both a famous and infamous blogger.

What Color Should Your Blog or Journal Be?

I think black is just fine, thanks.

OK, so to explain the title of today’s post: we just got some testing feedback from one of our clients. One of the bugs? “The popup alerts don’t work when popup blocker is on.”

Holy shit! Really?? Someone call microsoft! Something they built actually works!

We recently sent an email to the gateway provider we use for one of our applications, to ask them a question relating to the test probe we send to them every half hour. It is designed to generate an error, and if it doesn’t generate the error, we know there’s something wrong. We’re asking if there’s a better way to perform a test without littering the reports with errors. Their response?

“You are receiving this error because of the following reasons (list). Try (suggestions). Regards, Simmy, Blah Payment Services”

Simmy. As in… Simulation. Uhuh. We got a god damn bot responding to our email, instead of a human, with a completely useless response. We know what the error is! We are sending it on purpose!

So we reply to their reply, saying please can we talk to a human being. And we get issued a whole new tracking number. Brilliant. What exactly is the point of a tracking number, then, if they’re only tracking as far as their first response?

On the other hand, Simmy could be short for Simian. It is entirely possible that their helpdesk is manned by a troupe of monkeys. It would explain a lot.


Posted in Colleagues/Work on May 19, 2005 by moonflake

So we’re load testing the application, and the boss is in NY with the clients and is obviously bored. He’s been optimizing some of the sql code, and he sends us a few optimized stored procs and says ‘OKAY – I am a legend – 4.17 minutes to sub one second – HEEELLOOOOOOOO’.

So we deploy the code and i run the report. What do i get? No rows returned. Uhuh. Much faster. 🙂

Another quote from an email from the boss: ‘Again the embedded payment table and the convert used on an indexed date – simple but effective – 27 seconds to 1. Whos your daddy.’

He was also awake at 5AM EST. I’m worried. The clients are obviously sharing their crack/smack/cocaine with him.

“Why is it drug addicts and computer afficionados are both called users?” – Clifford Stoll